New HDR algorithm in Darktable anytime soon?

I really miss a more potent HDR-module in Darktable. Autoalignment and automated exposure-blending would be great. To me as a landscape photographer that´s one of the major drawbacks of Darktable. The same is true for focus stacking, but that´s a different story. The current hdr-module lacks even basic functions like autoalignment. Not even to mention the tonemapping modules with their 90´s looks. Exposure blending should be the way to go, not classic hdr-tonemapping.
Is anything like this in the pipeline?

Happy shooting


I would agree that auto alignment for hdr would be a good addition for DT. I use lightroom to create 32 bit auto aligned DNG files, but then Darktable comes into its own for further editing and refinement of those DNGs. The trouble is I can’t code and unless some developer who can code sees the benefits it just won’t happen. Only fair since their time is donated free.

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Use the lua module for HDR Merge. Its nice and produces an aligned exr ready to edit.


I have used HDRmerge as a standalone Software. I was not convinced by the results due to rather harsh transitions between the bracketed exposures.
Anyway, thank you very much for the proposal.

What were the EV difference between the bracketed shots?

Yes, you’re right about the developers. Still, for me, it’s really a pain not to have that Option, since I’m using an APSC DSLR with limited dynamic range. So, bracketing for hdr is a common thing to do for me and minor motion between exposures occurs more often than one might expect on a tripod. Really makes me consider using LR or PS instead, which is a pity, considering I’ve been using DT for years with hardly any other complaints.

I usually shoot brackets in 2 EV increments. 3 to 5 exposures as needed.

The alignment was also severely off a couple of times. My impression was, that the software wasn´t performing properly für no obvious reason.

Probably your best shot (pun not intended) is to use Hugin for alignment + blending. It implies some steps, but the result are pretty good.

Which ones are you referring to? If you use scene-referred modules (filmic RGB or sigmoid) you can basically edit HDR stuff almost the same as the regular case (well, modern cameras will already give you “HDR” input anyways).

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I´m referring to the classic tonemapping Module with the operator “draco”, etc…
Haven´t used it much though. Nowadays I use filmic most of the time to remap my tones to my liking. It kinda works, but it´s far from perfect in hdr-images. In combination with tone equalizer I can usually do the trick.

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Thanks for the link to that Hugin-tutorial! I´ll try it, since I already use Hugin panorama stitcher for - guess what - panos :wink:


@Daniel_Spenner I use a perpetual license for Lightroom to do HDR merge of hand held images (no tripod). Works great, but if you have no license you will need a subscription. I have played with hugin but since I have Lightroom I will stick with that. But then I process the image like any normal raw file in darktable. I don’t need to do any fake looking tone mapping from the 90s style if I use darktable.

@Mike_Bing I will definitely try Digikam and see if it can move me away from Lightroom. I have never played with Digikam. I know Hugin is good, but Lightroom makes me lazy since I have it already. But jeez, lightroom is boring for editing compared to darktable so I always import the resulting DNG into darktable.

sadly in my hands Digicam did not align my hand held test images. It gave a message that alignment was taking place , but the alignment was unsuccessful.

This file is licensed Creative Commons — Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International — CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

HDR sequence-3.pef (12.8 MB)
HDR sequence-1.pef (10.5 MB)
HDR sequence-2.pef (11.5 MB)

These are challenging shots because they are hand held and tourist are walking around the scene. Lightroom actually handles these issues. But I would like to find a FOSS solution for those people who do not have access to lightroom.

But do you actually need HDR for this image? Even the high exposure doesn’t show any hard clipping.

You get better bit depth with bracketed exposures.

While I agree that this image doesn’t really need it, it’s a nice example. And it is just a little mushy in the shadows, unsurprising for a slightly older camera, but merging would help if there was a brighter exposure.
HDR merging is not something I often need for my style of photography, but it would be nice to have it available. I’m sure someone will come up with something one day - which is good enough for me. :smile:

Admittedly I’m spoilt as I have a (relatively) modern full frame camera with excellent dynamic range… merging is very useful in some cases for getting the best out of slightly lesser cameras (i.e. most of the cameras I’ve owned :laughing:)

Has anyone used this - EasyHDR
Looks interesting, not foss or even free, but purchased outright. Uses libraw apparently, and is supposed to run in WINE… I might try the free trial.
Edit again, sorry - not clear if it will export a non-tonemapped image, which is obviously what we want…

Given that Darktable interoperates rather well with specialized tools like Hugin, duplicating their functionality is neither practical (they represent thousands of person-hours) nor desirable (it would distract developers from improving Darktable in other ways).

Have you tried a RAW-based workflow with Hugin?


Yes, got it, sorry I wasn’t clear. I was actually wondering how well that application worked in regard to alignment, but then realised that IF it doesn’t do what’s needed in other regards, (tonemapping ect.) it’s not much use anyway…